November 7th, 2015 10:16 PM by Dan Howard
With winter knocking at the door, trouble is the only thing warming up to come into our homes. Seniors and their caregivers face more winter weather challenges than most people.
If you have never had the experience of being in the shoes of an older person, imagine the time you had a very nasty ( featuring fluids streaming out of your body ) flu bug. Then remember the lack of ability to plan and accomplish your normal activities. That feeling of inability to cope with problems is what can happen to a senior, acutely ill or physically challenged person.
When it feels like life is coming at you like a train out of control, planning goes out the door along with good judgment.
Pride on the other hand .... you know what I mean..... old fashioned, overwhelming stubborn pride........ sticks to us like a leech on the back of our necks sucking out the ability to ask for help, especially when we need help the most .
The combination of financial demands, inability to work through problems and difficulty in asking for help can make winter a serious challenge. Caregivers who understand these facts can make the difference in quality of life and possibly even life and death.
Consider both the physical and financial aspects of dealing with winter. The basic needs include food, water, heat, clothing, sanitation, communication and medical needs. When time, energy or money run out, even the most important need can be ignored.
Help The Person Get Ready for Winter
There are basic chores than need done for winter. Help put away summer items. Get out stored winter clothes. coats, boots, gloves and other cold weather essentials. Tasks that may seem simple, can be daunting to someone aging or in ill health.
Get emergency supplies in place. Taking away the fear of being trapped without the essentials can be tough on a person. Pick a closet to cabinet and gather emergency supplies. Stocking a place with LED flashlights, a backup battery radio, bottled water, food that can be eaten out of the package when utilities are off are the types of things that take the fear out of winter storm entrapment.
If they do not have a cell phone, consider a TracPhone or other emergency phone. It doesn't need to be an expensive phone, but supply a simple phone available if the regular phone system goes down or the person needs to leave a home.
The isolation of winter is one of cold weather's biggest and meanest challenges. Set a time to talk. Anticipating a call can be as exciting as a phone call itself during dreary weather. There are many ways to make these talks interesting and meaningful. Asking about a story or experience from the past can be a great thing for everyone. You may even want to take notes about "the way things were" for a family history.
Talk money. This is a tough one. People do not like to talk about the subject of if there is not enough money for utilities, medicine and food. They may be embarrassed, or too confused to apply for programs that can help with expenses like LIHEAP for heating assistance. A few hours of effort sorting out these issues could take a lot of stress from a person you care about.
Find out about essential medicines and put in place a plan that makes sure there is always a sufficient supply of these on hand. Whether the difficulty is delivery or payment, there are programs and options that are available. Making those arrangements could take some time, but will be worth the effort.
Send a "thinking of you” basket when a storm or other event is coming. That provides a supply of food, but more importantly lets people know that you care. It can relieve the stress of not rushing to the store before the storm.
Do not forget the pet. This is one of the most important things in many homes. Food, water and a place to go if evacuating the home is very important.